In December 2022, IHRA made a submission to a Senate Community Affairs References Committee inquiry on universal access to sexual and reproductive health information, treatment and services.
The submission has been kindly endorsed by MSI International Australia (formerly Marie Stopes International Australia), and LGBTIQ+ Health Australia.
We note in the submission, in relation to sexual and reproductive health:
- our reproductive capacity is frequently disregarded and eliminated in medical interventions intended to make our appearance and function fit medical norms for female or male bodies
- these often take place before we have age and agency to express our own values and preferences
- sexual function and sensation are devalued and deprioritised in favour of appearance and conformity to social and cultural stereotypes
- our access to reproductive services is impeded
- our lives are frequently not seen as worth living, impacting on the reproductive choices of potential parents
Social attitudes, such as body shaming, and ideas about how our bodies should look and function, play a key role in determining how we are treated, and even if we are born.
In general, infertility is a huge problem for our community. To a significant degree, infertility is a problem for many of us specifically because of the way we have been treated by medicine. Whether infertility or impaired fertility are iatrogenic or inherent, we all deserve the right to access reproductive and sexual services, free of shame and stigma.
We make the following recommendations:
- Implement clear national legislation to protect the human rights of people with innate variations of sex characteristics in medical settings, taking account of an approach expressed in draft legislation developed by the Australian Capital Territory.
- In the alternative, ensure implementation of nationally consistent legislation to protect people with innate variations of sex characteristics in medical settings, taking account of an approach expressed in draft legislation developed by the Australian Capital Territory.
- Implement revisions to model law on female genital mutilation to ensure that such legislation does not continue to provide legal loopholes permitting forced and coercive surgeries on children with innate variations of sex characteristics.
- Address stigma and discrimination contributing to genetic selection and prenatal terminations on grounds of sex and sex characteristics.
- Recognising the need for a legislative protections as a prerequisite, provide for national human rights-affirming standards of care for medical treatment involving people with innate variations of sex characteristics.
- Reform paediatric MBS item codes to end reimbursement incentives for unnecessarily early surgeries on children with innate variations of sex characteristics.
- Ensure that people with innate variations of sex characteristics are able to access subsidised treatment for family planning purposes, including to surgically retrieve and implant sperm, eggs and tissues, on the same basis as other forms of subsidised reproductive healthcare.
- Provide for adequate national resourcing for peer and family support and advocacy services for people with innate variations of sex characteristics and our families, including a dedicated helpline.
- Provide for redress to persons with innate variations of sex characteristics having undergone forced and coercive medical procedures, including access to ongoing and reparative treatments.
- Provide for medical education to increase capacity of the medical, health, family and domestic violence support workforces to provide services to people with innate variations of sex characteristics, including education on the human rights and ethical issues engaged by medical practice and stigmatisation.
The submission was written by Morgan Carpenter.